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Mesopotamian influenceMesopotamia was the first civilization, but what influence did...

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kerrierg | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted February 11, 2011 at 7:18 PM via web

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Mesopotamian influence

Mesopotamia was the first civilization, but what influence did they have on other societies?

I am looking for specific influences from thier culture, their economics or their environment   I found that Babylonian astronomy had influences on the Greek astronomy.   Would you consider this a good example? If so, what exactly did the Greeks inplement into their society from the Babylonian astronomy?

Are there any other influences Mesopotania had on any other specific societies?  

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 11, 2011 at 8:54 PM (Answer #2)

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What about the ways in which the Sumerians seem to have influenced the Bible?  There is much from the Epic of Gilgamesh that tracks closely with biblical stories.  I suppose that this may not be a clear example of influence, though, since you can argue that they are both reflecting a common tradition, rather than that the Sumerian stories were picked up by the people who composed the Bible.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 12, 2011 at 11:34 AM (Answer #3)

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Just to build on #2, in particular the creation narrative of The Bible is very interesting to compare with other creation narratives such as the Sumerian one. It is clear that the creation narrative of The Bible owes a lot to the Sumerian creation narrative, but what is interesting is the marked differences of how early followers of Yahweh sought to distinguish themselves from their neighbours, such as through their belief in monotheism (beliving in one God).

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catd1115 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted February 12, 2011 at 5:54 PM (Answer #4)

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What about Hammurabi's Code? It is largely considered the first formal set of laws, an example for all systems of laws later on. Though many of its punishments seem severe in the modern world we can recognize many of the same taboos in his code as in our modern system of laws.

Also even the earliest Mesopotamians were temple builders. Their ziggurats certainly influenced the pyramids of the Egyptians and who knows how many other civilizations.

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maadhav19 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted February 13, 2011 at 8:25 AM (Answer #5)

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A few thoughts to build on and add to what others have said:

1. Ancient Sumer had a Flood myth, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh - this may have influenced flood myths not only in the Bible but in India and Greece. On a more speculative level, we see early indications of cow/bull worship (also seen in India and the Near East) and stories about plants that grant immortality - a feature of Vedic religion and implied in the Book of Genesis.

2. Babylonian astronomy influenced not only Greece, but also India and (as Joseph Needham argues) China. Astrology, too, is thought to have spread from ancient Babylonia.

3. The Code of Hammurabi also influenced ancient law codes in the Near East.

4. Mathematically and calendrically ancient Babylon was the source of the 360 degree circle and the division of the day into 24 hours with 60 minutes each - Babylonian civilization used cycles of 60 in their reckoning for things. It's also the earliest known source for the 7-day week. You can point out to students that these are things that are still used today.

5. And it's the earliest civilization for which we have written records of a centralized, urban society. This is kind of a nebulous concept, admittedly, but we might find parallels between urban culture then and now.

 

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